Another year has been laid to rest, and a new year has dawned.  Perhaps you’re elated that the year 2012 is a thing of the past, or perchance you waved goodbye to 2012 with mixed content and a sense of anxious anticipation for what the New Year has in store for you.  The latter is where we find ourselves on this New Year’s Day of 2013.

A little over a year ago-December 12, 2011 to be exact-our world as we knew it took an unexpected turn in an unpredictable direction.  What began as an isolated, acute migraine transpired into the diagnosis of a 17mm pineal cyst that was deemed either an incidental finding on an MRI or the definite cause of my myriad of physical symptoms stemming back years prior to the December migraine, with the only viable treatment for curing the condition being invasive brain surgery, or divine intervention.

After nearly twelve months of pain, misdiagnosis, frustration and uncertainty, you can imagine the delight and surprise of experiencing nearly twenty symptom-free days last month, appearing particularly significant as the successor to perspective-altering time spent with the Lord.  You see, I’d finally reached a place of authenticity and candor in my conversation with the Lord.  I had finally moved beyond the head knowledge of knowing that He could heal my physical infirmities if He wanted, to disclosing my heart’s desire and asking Him to do so, be that His will.  I laid bare my raw emotions and pleaded with the Lord that, if it was His will, to allow my cup of suffering to pass from me.  Certainly, if Jesus could pray this very same request in the garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion, then I had permission to pray the same.  And while my greatest yearning is for God to be glorified, I desperately long for divine healing not for selfish relief from physical suffering, but for my beautiful daughters, and for Greg-the love of my life-to experience the wonder and blessing of healing this side of heaven.  Sure, I would be thrilled to no longer suffer as I have, but my family has walked a curiously similar road before with the diagnosis, treatment, and eventual home-going of Greg’s first wife to a brain tumor.  I long for them to be spared walking this similar road.  And surely divine healing would be the most influential means for displaying the mysteries of God to a world so demanding of logical explanation!  Thus, I wept bitterly, yet expectantly, and honestly presented my requests to God to the point of being filled with His peace that passes all understanding.

 And in this peace I immersed myself…until the headaches and nausea returned about three weeks later.  This was a far cry from the entrance I’d expected for the New Year.  We have jobs to perform, a business to run, a grandchild to be born, travel to plan, ministry engagements to fulfill, band rehearsals to lead, and work to do for the Kingdom…work that for a few weeks was relieved of the inclusion of brain surgery for God’s most excellent glory!

Devastated.  Discouraged.  Dismayed.  From the sudden onset of returned symptoms, the emotional pendulum had violently swung from the real possibility of healing to the reality that I was not removed from the possibility of surgery.   I relentlessly began trying my best to analyze my situation in pursuit of an explanation.  Maybe the headaches had returned as residual effects from the stomach flu my body had been subject to earlier in the week.  Maybe it was my body’s way of exhaling after the tiresome schedule my family had maintained throughout the Christmas season and God’s generous portion of grace to endure it had come to an end.  Or maybe it was God’s way of re-grounding my heart in Him and His sustenance rather than the fruits of His blessing in my life.  Only time will tell.  One thing I do know for certain, however, is that I have learned, and am still learning, the importance of not seeking the blessing, but the Blesser.  Seeking the hand of God will only temporarily change my circumstances until the next need arises.  Seeking God’s heart, however, will permanently transform my heart. 

What about you?  Will you choose to seek the Source of peace rather than peaceful solutions?  Will you pursue Him Who offers comfort and refuge rather than a safe passage through the storm?  Are you willing to chase the mystery of His plan for your life rather than the safety of your own preferences?  Will you seek out and confidently live in the provisions of His grace already afforded you rather than petitioning greater portions out of fear of its insufficiency?  Will you run swiftly after the unfolding splendor of His glory through pain and unpredictability rather than pleading for the safety and security of walking without affliction?  Are you ready to seek the Blesser, rather than the blessing?

This is the passionate prayer of my heart for me and for you in this New Year, and every day thereafter.  Together, let’s choose to forget the former things and welcome the new thing God desires to do in our lives, even if it’s through pre-existing conditions we’ve carried over from last year.  Our God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  He knows us, He loves us, He has called us by name, and we are His!

Isaiah 43:1-2, 18-19 (NIV) 

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.